Midweek Reflections

Let’s Eat… Together!

Read: Galatians 6:1-10
For the past 15 years in various sermons, articles, devotionals, and conversations I have made it a point to encourage people to fellowship, converse, interact, share burdens and concerns, and support each other.  I truly believe this is why God has placed us together, in families, in churches, and in community. What better place to do this than around food and at the table? Families eating together, churches having fellowship meals together, and people conversing at local coffee shops are some of the ways we can live out the encouragements in Galatians 6:1-10.
In the September 16, 2019 issue of Time Magazine Belinda Luscombe writes, “Studies have long shown that eating as a family brings with it a cornucopia of benefits, ranging from decreasing a child’s risk for obesity, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, depression and teen pregnancy, to improving their academic performance, eating habits, self-esteem, and resilience.”
One of the points that Belinda makes in her article is that some families are using breakfast as their main time of eating together.  While dinner is still the preferred option by most researchers our busy culture has forced people to eat together whenever and however possible.  Afternoon and evening sports and other things are often making it harder for families to work that out for dinner time.
In Galatians 6 we are told to support each other in many different facets of life.  We cannot do that unless we are finding times as families, church, and friends to sit down, eat together, and share our lives with each other.  In a much too busy culture we must become intentional about this endeavor. Our spiritual life can gain much by receiving love, support, and encouragement from each other.
Make it Personal:  No matter what place in life you are there is much value in fostering relationships with others. Parents, this is crucial for your families.  Couples, this is important for your relationship, Singles, this is valuable in staying connected with those around you. What better place to start those than around food or at your local coffee shop.  Let’s eat… Together!         
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Two To Go

Read: Mark 13
This past weekend there were several sporting events in High School, College, and Pro that went down to the last minutes of the game.  In many of those games the teams found a sudden burst of energy and momentum in the last two minutes of the game or last innings of a game.  This sudden inspiration reminds us of what Jesus says in Mark 13 when he speaks of the final days.
While Jesus makes it clear that only God the Father knows when those last days or hours will be (v.32), he continuously encourages believers to be on guard, ready, and alert for them at all times.  He says, “If He comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” (v.36) In other words, don’t just live as you please and think about pleasing the Lord sometime in the future. The time to make Jesus the Lord of your life and to live your life for him is now.
As I watched some of those sporting events this past weekend I had to ask myself.  What were these teams doing the whole game? Why did they wait until the last two minutes or last inning of the game to finally get their games in gear?  For some of those teams, especially the Illini football team, that last minute surge still wasn’t enough to bring forth a victory.
The truth is, we don’t know when our last hours on earth will be and we don’t know when Jesus will return as he has promised.  Our utmost concern needs to be about how prepared and ready we are for that day. Now is the time to live as if you are in the last two minutes of your life here on earth.  I hope we have many more but if not, I hope we all will be ready and prepared to meet Jesus in heaven.
Make it Personal:  Think about your own life right now.  If Jesus were to come today or if your life here on earth were to come to an unexpected end, would it look like you were ready for it?  Would it look like you were ready to meet Jesus? These are important things for each of us to ponder. Don’t wait until the last two minutes to become passionate and alive for Jesus.         
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

True and Committed

Read: Ruth 1
After hearing a famous violinist give a concert one time a lady went up to her and said, “I would give anything to be able to play like that.”  The violinist replied, “Would you really? Would you even give 5 minutes every day?” Another person later told the violinist, “I would give my life if I could play the way you do.”  The violinist once again responded and said, “That is precisely what I have given.”
To be true and committed to something or someone demands time, effort, commitment, and dedication.  Olympic athletes train for years, a musician must be committed to practice, and marriage is a commitment that requires a couple to work at their relationship. When we think of being committed to Jesus, to our faith, or committed to anything else in life, it requires us to be faithful.
Faithfulness is what we see in the book of Ruth.  Ruth was so faithful to her mother-in-law Naomi that she stayed with her wherever she went.  Her faithfulness to remain true and committed was a part of God’s plan to continue the family line through which the Messiah Jesus would later be born into the world.  Read the short book of Ruth and see how God used the faithfulness of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz to remain strong and committed when the culture around them was crumbling.
It’s easy to look around today and be frustrated by many different things on many different fronts.  In many ways it feels as if our culture is crumbling. What are we to do about it? While some actions can be taken to improve things, the most important calling for Christians is to remain strong in character and true to God.  If our own commitment to Jesus is failing, how do we expect to grow in Him and make a difference in the world that we live?
Make it Personal:  If you have ever learned to play an instrument, a sport, or become successful in a career or as a parent or spouse, you know the hard work and practice that is required.  That same commitment is what we need to live out as followers of Jesus Christ. Ruth is a great example, and throughout the Bible there are many, many more. Let it be said of us!          Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Incredible Worth

Read: 1 John 4:7-21
Some of you may have heard about a 2” x 3” piece of cardboard that brought 1.62 million dollars at a memorabilia auction in Chicago back in 2008.  It was one of the famous Honus Wagner baseball cards and it was bought by memorabilia dealer John Rogers of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Wagner was the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917.  He was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” because of his superb speed and German heritage.
Honus Wagner cards have long been the most prized baseball cards in the collecting world.  They have sometimes been referred to as “The Mona Lisa of baseball cards.” There are only about 50 of them in existence and only 3 or 4 of them have been graded in very good to excellent condition.  One copy that is in excellent condition brought 2.8 million dollars at an auction in 2007.
It’s hard to imagine a small piece of cardboard being worth so much isn’t it?  But as I reflected on the incredible worth of this baseball card I was reminded of the incredible worth each of us has in the eyes of God.  One or two million dollars or a Honus Wagner baseball card can’t even come close to comparing. In 1 John 4:9 the Bible says, “This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”  As that chapter continues, it goes on to tell about how God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to clear away our sins and restore our right relationship with God.  
One of the most well-known scripture passages in all the Bible is John 3:16.  That verse speaks to the incredible worth you have to God. It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Make it Personal:  All too often in life we are reminded of our shortcomings.  We are told that we are not good enough or that we are failures, but God refutes that.  God has proven to us that there is no price too high, or no price that He would not pay to save us and show us His love.  He sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to show that. His Word proclaims, “You have incredible worth!” Don’t let the world or anyone else tell you different!          Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

God Knows Your Name

Read: Isaiah 43:1-7
In a recent news story from Cleveland, Ohio a bank robber made a couple huge mistakes.  His first mistake of course was robbing the bank in the first place, but his second mistake led to his capture.  As he handed the note to the teller demanding money he failed to realize that he had written his command on the back of his vehicle registration card that had his full name and address on it.  The teller gave him the cash, thanked him by name, and kept the note to give to the police.
When I read this story in the news I was reminded of how God knows all of us by name.  Not only does he know us by name, he knows everything about us. Nothing is hidden from the creator of the universe and the creator of human beings.  This can be intimidating or it can be comforting. Intimidating if we are out of step with God, and comforting if we need God’s help in life. It can also be reassuring to know that God cares for us in a personal way.
In Isaiah 43 we are given these reassuring words, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… When you walk through the fire you will not be burned…. Do not be afraid for I am with you.”  In the New Testament God’s Son Jesus also reassures us of his personal love, care, and concern for us.  John chapter 10 says, “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep… He calls his own sheep by name and leads them.”
Whatever it is that you are facing this week, know that God is there for you.  He has created you, He knows you by name, and he is ready and able to support you, bring you peace, forgive you, and extend his grace to you for any sin or mistake you have made in life.  I sure hope the bank robber in Cleveland will learn this truth and allow it to turn his life in the right direction.
Make it Personal:  Most of us would never think of robbing a bank, but how many times have you beat yourself up over smaller missteps?  Too often we allow the guilt of those mistakes to be carried around for way too long. Jesus knows them and wants to forgive you so that you can move on from them without the guilt and condemnation.  He knows your name and loves you!                 Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The First Step

Read: Nehemiah 1
When the name Nehemiah from the Bible is mentioned most people remember the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This was one of Nehemiah’s greatest callings and accomplishments for the Lord. He was a brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator for sure. But when Nehemiah sensed this call upon his life his first step was not to plan, organize, talk to the king, or begin his trip back to Jerusalem, it was to pray.
The first chapter of Nehemiah includes his prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he offered praise and thanksgiving, and he committed himself to the Lord’s will. Only after a time of mourning, fasting and praying did he have the courage to go to the king and ask if he could return to Jerusalem to help his people and rebuild the broken down walls.
In our fast paced world we are often tempted to barrel straight ahead with what we think is the right direction. I wonder what would have happened if Nehemiah would have proceeded in that way? What if he did not take time to mourn for what had happened, to fast and seek after God’s direction through prayer? Things might have ended up much differently for him. Perhaps the king would not have been so willing to let him depart from Susa?
The first step for Christians should always be prayer. We need to make sure that our will aligns with God’s will. Yes, he placed something on our heart, but the entire plan and direction may come through many hours of prayer and discernment, not the first inclinations of our flesh.
Make it Personal:  If your first inclination is to act, step back and think about the first step that Nehemiah took. Prayer and open communication with the Lord can open up many doors that human minds have not even considered. If you read the entire book of Nehemiah you will see that this was not a onetime decision for Nehemiah, he often turned to the Lord in prayer and asked the Lord to remember him, to deal with his enemies, and to use him in only the way God desired. Hopefully that will be our approach as well.                                 
Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

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